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Claude the fraud puppet glams up for World Romance Scam campaign

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The bright pink mascot of our fraud-fighting campaign has popped up to steal your hearts – not your money – in time for World Romance Scam Prevention Day.

Claude, our yellow-haired and goofy sock puppet, makes his latest appearance in the middle of a hair and beauty salon to warn people against romance fraudsters.

In the latest #SockItToTheScammers short film, he interrupts two women who are chatting about a hunky army sergeant one of them has been messaging online.

The dashing deceiver has nearly tricked her into sending him £3,000 to unlock his pension, so he can finally leave the armed forces, jet over to Derbyshire and sweep her off her feet.

Luckily, Claude bursts in to deliver his words of advice and three simple tips: Stop! Think! Tell!

And he’s back just in time to help with World Romance Scam Prevention Day on October 3, which aims to educate people across the globe about how these types of fraud begin, and the devastation they can leave in their wake.

Tammy Barnes, Derbyshire Constabulary’s Fraud Protect Officer, said: “Romance scams can be one of the most devastating types of fraud to fall victim to, and they risk losing far more than just their hearts.

“A romance scam is a sophisticated manipulation from the start, where the criminal will prey on someone who is looking for love and companionship but all along is just tricking them out of their money.

“People are conned into believing they’ve met their perfect partner online, but the other party involved is using a fake profile to form that bond, with one goal in mind.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that lives have been ruined because of them, so we’re doing everything we can to raise awareness of how they work, and most importantly, how people can protect themselves against them.”

We launched our #SockItToTheScammers campaign earlier this year to tackle a growing trend of people falling victim to fraudsters. Our first short film focused on courier fraud and members of the public have already contacted the force to say it has helped prevent them from being tricked out of their savings.

Claude’s latest eye-popping appearance was filmed at Katie Weeds Hair and Beauty in Belper, and stars Katie and her colleague Laura in two of the central roles.

The scam in the video might seem far-fetched but sadly it’s one we see happening all too often – with victims losing tens of thousands of pounds to fraudsters, and sometimes even more.

Criminals will contact people online and often message with very flattering comments, appearing really interested in the person in a short space of time. However, they will use a range of excuses as to why they can’t meet in person yet – such as being stuck overseas, having a family emergency, or an issue with their business.

Eventually, they will start asking for money to help with their problems, assuring the target that they will pay them back as soon as they can.

But it’s all a scam.

Tammy said: “There’s a perception that victims of these types of scams are elderly but that’s simply not the case – anyone can be a target of fraud, regardless of your age or gender.

“One of the key trends we’re seeing in Derbyshire is that people being targeted often have open social media profiles and may be unaware just how much of their personal information is available to view. I would urge people to check their privacy settings and double-check who can access your photos, details and interests.

“Not everyone is who they claim to be, especially online. So if someone does contact you and tries to spark a romance, just remember our simple message: ‘Stop! Think! Tell!’”

If you think you, or someone you know has been a victim of romance fraud, please report it to us via one of the following methods:
• Facebook: send us a private message to /DerbyshireConstabulary
• Twitter: direct message our contact centre on @DerPolContact
• Website: complete the online contact form https://www.derbyshire.police.uk/Contact-Us.
• Phone: call us on 101.

You should also report this to Action Fraud via their website: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/.

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